Defence Minister Davies Chama says this year’s budget allocation to his ministry is minimal and not as enormous as people are trying to portray.
On Wednesday, the Zambia Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) joined stakeholders who have been questioning government’s decision to increase the budget allocation towards defense, security and public order whilst reducing funding to health and education.
But in an interview with News Diggers! Thursday, Chama said men and women in uniform needed proper equipment to maintain peace in the country.
He said investing in the much needed equipment was not a suggestion that government was anticipating war to erupt.
“For your information, we should not take for granted the peace and tranquility that we have enjoyed for a long time. We need to preserve the peace and ensure that the country remains a nation of peace. So when people are discussing these things without going into details, I don’t want to trivialize their augments. When you argue from a point of ignorance, this is what I am saying, when people have not read the details of the budget line by line, and people are arguing from a point of either because everyone is saying ‘no there is an increment in the Ministry of Defence and are we anticipating any war’. God forbid, we don’t want war! We don’t want our eight neighbors to attack us equally we have no intention to attack them. We want to continue living in peace but all times our men and women in uniform are supposed to be prepared and equipped sufficiently so that they can have the capability to protect the internal integrity of this country,” Chama said.
Chama argued that this year’s budget allocation to his ministry was actually minimal, contrary to sentiments by critics.
“Have they studied the details where the increment has risen from? I think if you scrutinize the budget critically, the increase is very very minimal. Last year’s budget was roughly about 5.8 per cent it has gone to about six per cent. So it has just gone up by 0.2 per cent. If I have the figures correct. And the budget is being debated right now in Parliament. And every year, you know that the conditions of service for civil servants are improved. The men and women in uniform are not an exception. They are supposed to benefit from these adjustments in the condition of service. If you remember last year or this year, the civil servants had a four per cent increment. So if you increase the budget by four per cent is that abnormal?” asked Chama.
“Last year’s budget was about K23 billion and it has now gone to about K106 billion, it means that the budget has increased. It goes without saying that every ministry will have an increment or depending on the Minister of Finance how he has managed to allocate resources, maybe some ministries will have some bit of adjustments and allocate to the most important ministry. Where he wants certain things to happen so that the economy can move around. But the increment is not enormous as people are trying to portray.”